BALTIMORE - Police arrested more than 100 people during an unauthorized motor rally in Ocean City this weekend. Videos filmed at the scene show angry encounters between officers and throngs of attendees.
Officers from neighboring jurisdictions came to assist Ocean City Police with crowd control at the rally, known by participants as H2oi. They included the Worcester County Sheriff, Maryland State Police, Wicomico County Sheriff, Queen Anne's County Sheriff, Maryland Transportation Authority Police and Maryland Natural Resources Police.
More than 100 people were arrested and charged with criminal and traffic offenses, the police department said in a Sunday morning news release.
Such aggressive enforcement comes at a time when many Americans are criticizing heavy-handed police tactics and making calls to "defund the police." The event also came as health officials continue to stress the importance of social distancing to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
"This is not a car show and the majority of these visitors are not car enthusiasts," Ocean City Police Chief Ross Buzzuro said in a statement. "They are here to disrupt, destroy and disrespect our community and our law enforcement officers. Our policing philosophy is to be friendly, fair and firm. Unfortunately, the disorderly behavior and unruly crowds left no choice but to shift our philosophy and take additional steps to protect our officers and our community."
Joseph Davis, 17, of Delaware, was one of about 40 people standing on the median taking photos of the drivers when officers with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police began shouting to clear the area.
As the crowd moved to the sidewalk, an officer grabbed a man walking in the crosswalk, said Davis. "I didn't like what was happening so I started recording," he said.
In Davis' video, the officer is seen roughly forcing the man to the ground. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Natural Resource Police department said the man was arrested for disorderly conduct and that police are "gathering more information" about whether the officer was following protocol.
The contentious scene was capped off by a Davis claiming to be arrested after he said he shouted profanities at officers.
Another video depicts officers tackling one person in the middle of the road, before another individual then jumps on top of the officers. The second person is then tackled by police. Crowd members begin to film the scene and one calls out "police brutality." Others taunt and scream at officers.